After an illustrious career which began in 1996 and included five championships, Kobe Bryant will play his last game in the NBA on Wednesday. He announced his decision to retire months ago, early in the season, and the homages and retrospectives have been pouring in ever since -- especially this week.
And, according to one story, Kobe is (or, at least, was) a Jay Z superfan.
"Whenever a new Jay Z album came out, it was a big deal," Kobe's former teammate, Brian Shaw, told The Players' Tribune. "Guys would get it Day One and be rapping their favorite songs. Maybe they knew the first few bars or the hook. Well, Kobe would be on the back of the bus rapping every single line of every single song the day after the album came out. I’m talking every lyric. It was genuinely amazing. Nobody could figure out how it was possible."
To reiterate, that's every single line of every single song (supposedly).
Devean George, another former teammate, confirmed this obsession: "I would picture him sitting up all night with his headphones on, scribbling the lyrics over and over in a notebook like my kids do when they study for an English test. The damn album just came out yesterday, and he knows it front to back.
"That’s when I realized, maybe this guy is a genius. Either that, or he was getting Jay to send him advance copies. Either way, that’s a little window into Kobe. He was obsessed with greatness."
I'm not sure I totally believe this timeline, but, hey, Kobe has proven to have a maniacal work ethic, so, if he applied that to memorizing Hov lines, who knows?